The Pretender’s Crown (The Inheritors’ Cycle, Book 2)

In Murphy’s crisply written sequel to 2008’s alternate history The Queen’s Bastard, aliens known as the Heseth, the people of the sun, have visited Earth in what would be our 16th century, but the supernatural elements are limited to the occasional use of magical abilities. The plot is more focused on the struggle for power in Echon (Europe), which features familiar rivalries between Aulun (England), Gallin (France) and the Prussian Confederation. As political tensions heat up, Belinda, the witchfire-wielding assassin and illegitimate daughter of Aulun’s Queen Lorraine, faces relationship problems with Javier de Castille, prince of Essandia (Spain) and Gallin, and with her overbearing mother. Murphy tends toward long discussions of war, succession and various attempts by the Heseth to influence human development, mostly balanced by clever intrigue and raw, explicit sex scenes. –Publishers Weekly